Proximal humeral nonunion treated with an intramedullary tantalum cylinder

Gregory M. Georgiadis, Andrew G. Georgiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nonunion is uncommon after proximal humerus fracture surgery. There is no agreement about preferred method of treatment. Traditional approaches have included laterally based locking plates, autogenous grafting, and endosteal support to provide improved biomechanical stability. Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of proximal humeral nonunion has been performed with various methods, including blade plates and bone grafting, as well as intramedullary support with autologous or allogenic grafts. Both malunion and nonunion have occurred after ORIF with locking plates. Endosteal support in the form of a fibular allograft incorporated into the locking plate construct can increase mechanical stability in selected cases. An ideal implant for proximal humeral nonunion provides medial column mechanical support and osteoconductive and osteoinductive properties. Porous intramedullary tantalum metal may play a role in nonunion surgery as an alternative to fibular allograft because of its versatility of use and salutary biological effects. It offers many material advantages for use in nonunion surgery. Tantalum is extensively porous (75%-80%), has a stiffness close to that of native bone, and offers the possibility of being a carrier for osteoinductive materials. It may also be suitable for patients who refuse allograft material. This article describes a 65-year-old woman with recalcitrant proximal humeral nonunion who was successfully treated with revision ORIF with intramedullary tantalum cylinder augmentation with a lateral-based locking plate and autogenous cancellous bone grafting. At 5-year follow-up, she had excellent motion and clinical and radiographic union.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1555-e1558
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


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